Yemen protester killed amid Saleh defiance

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Sanaa(Yemen), Apr 3: Yemeni police killed an anti-regime protester and wounded scores more today, medics and witnesses said, as President Ali Abdullah Saleh called for an end to protests demanding that he step down.

They said security forces shot dead a young man seen tearing up a poster of Saleh at a demonstration in Taez, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of the capital.

His death took the toll to nearly 100 from the crackdown on protests that erupted in the Arabian Peninsula country in late January, according to international human rights watchdogs.

State news agency Saba quoted the Taez governor as denying anyone was killed in protests today. Instead, eight members of the security forces were wounded, one seriously, he said.

The opposition said yesterday it wants Saleh to

end his three-decade grip and transfer power to his deputy for a transitional period, a proposal the veteran leader dismissed on Sunday.

At least 1,200 others were injured in Taez, some by live rounds, as police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters, said medics in the city's Al-Thawra hospital, adding many were in a critical condition.

Police took wounded protesters away to an unknown destination, witnesses said, adding the security forces kept firing as they pushed protesters back to a square where they have been staging a sit-in.

After hours of clashes, tanks deployed around "Freedom Square" where the protesters have camped out since Feb, a security official and witnesses said.

Meanwhile, in the main southern city of Aden, thousands demonstrated in solidarity with the protesters in Taez, an AFP correspondent reported.

The demonstrators carried black flags and banners that read, "The people of Aden support the people of Taez," and chanted, "We will protect you with our lives Taez" and "The people want to overthrow the regime."

The opposition Common Forum yesterday called on Saleh to hand power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi in a new "vision for a peaceful and secure transition of power." Hadi who is from the southern province of Abyan, is a member of Saleh's ruling General People''s Congress.

It was the first time the opposition had put forward a proposal for a transition it has demanded since anti-Saleh protests erupted in late Jan.

In what appeared to be his response, Saleh told visitors the Common Forum should "end the crisis through calling off protests and removing roadblocks."

AFP

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